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Leap Castle Hauntings and History

Updated on January 17, 2016
Phyllis Doyle profile image

Paranormal activity is of great interest to Phyllis. She has visited a few places where she actually saw spirits of the past.

Leap Castle ~

Leap Castle - Central tower, gutted wing on left. It is where the elemental is also seen
Leap Castle - Central tower, gutted wing on left. It is where the elemental is also seen | Source

Castle Fascination ~

Medieval castles have always held a fascination for those who love history. Leap Castle, with its hauntings and history, will satisfy the historian as well as the most curious of ghost hunters.

The beauty of an ancient castle tends to hide the mysterious legends and ghostly tales till one is inside and begins to feel the past closing in on them. Leap Castle, in County Offaly, Ireland, is one such castle that has the beauty of the medieval architecture, and an enigmatic aura of mysteries and ghosts -- it is considered the most haunted castle in Ireland.

Architectural Beauty ~

One who can look beyond the rubble and haunted rooms with the eye and appreciation of an architect, will see the true beauty of the castle.

The current owners of Leap Castle have managed to restore some rooms to their original charm and maintain a sense of comfort with old-world charm.

It is surprising that some halls and stairwells are very narrow -- it makes one wonder how ladies of the distant past managed to maneuver in these spaces in gowns with an abundance of fabric.

European fashion of the 15th-century ~

Full-bodied houppelandes with voluminous sleeves worn with elaborate headdresses are characteristic of the earlier 15th century. Detail from Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.
Full-bodied houppelandes with voluminous sleeves worn with elaborate headdresses are characteristic of the earlier 15th century. Detail from Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. | Source

Leap of the O’Bannons ~

The castle was built in the fourteenth century and originally named "Leap of the O'Bannons". The O'Bannons, secondary chieftains of the territory, were ruled by the O'Carroll clan.

It was the O'Bannons who built the castle as a fortress on an enormous solid rock foundation, as if it is sitting upon a throne. It still stands like a guardian over the beautiful countryside surrounding it. The history of the castle is filled with violent years of battles and horrendous happenings that have left haunting memories which linger on throughout the castle, from top to bottom.

Leap Castle was attacked by the Earl of Kildare and partially demolished in 1516. The O'Carroll clan regained possession around 1557, twenty-five years after their chieftain, Mulrooney O'Carroll, died.

Family Feud in the Bloody Chapel ~

After Mulrooney died, family feuding arose as to who should be the clan leader. Two brothers who constantly fought for leadership against each other, ended their battle in what is now called "The Bloody Chapel".

One brother was a priest. During a mass he was holding for family members, his brother rushed in with his sword drawn and brutally murdered the priest. The spirit of the priest still wanders throughout the halls and returns to the chapel at night, where he died.

A small room just off the chapel is the source of hauntings from spirits who suffered a horrible death. An unsuspecting person would be led into the room then shoved toward a large hole in the floor, where they fell upon huge spikes eight feet below. If they were lucky, they would die immediately. Some did not and suffered unimaginable pain.

Their bodies were left there to rot. None were ever removed until 1922, when workmen were cleaning out the cellars and dungeon after a fire. It took three cartloads to remove all the bones of the ones who died in agony.

This type dungeon, where the only opening is at the top, is called an oubliette. The spikes are no longer down there, yet the haunted spirits let none forget the horror, for the aura of torment still lingers and gives one the chills.

Betrayal and Treachery ~

Charles O'Carroll was the last chieftain of the O'Carroll clan at Leap Castle. Being at war with the Earl of Tyrone, Charles asked the MacMahon clan of Monaghan for assistance.

After a battle in which the MacMahon clan had fought with the O'Carrolls, Charles held a feast in their honor. That night, as the MacMahon clan slept in the castle, they were all murdered by the O'Carroll clan. It is not surprising that the spirits of the MacMahon clan may also roam the halls in anger and haunt Leap Castle.

The Darby Family and the Elemental ~

Ownership of the castle passed, through marriage, from the O'Carroll family in 1659 to the Darby family from England. Johnathan and Mildred Darby, descendants of the English family, moved into Leap Castle in the late nineteenth century. It was not long before they encountered the most difficult ghostly apparition to tolerate -- a foul, antagonizing spirit that is called the Elemental.

This creature has a horrific odor like that of something rotting or decomposing -- some say it is like a rotting corpse odor. It is all hunched down into a grotesque shape and looks half human, half animal. It may be a shapeshifter, transformed from the "Lady in Red". The lady seems to be the most powerful and malevolent of all the spirits in the castle. Those who have seen her claim that she is quite tall with a lovely face. She is dressed in a billowing red gown and often appears on a balcony overlooking the sitting room on the first floor. One psychic said he saw her face lose the beauty as she transformed into the Elemental, the hideous creature that torments people and creates an atmosphere of heaviness, terror and evil.

The first recorded experience of the Elemental, was in the late nineteenth century as experienced by Mildred Darby. Mildred liked dabbling in magic, holding seances, and other means of trying to contact the other side. Without realizing what she was doing, Mildred apparently invoked a creature from the world of elemental spirits. An article, written by Mildred, appeared in the Journal Occult Review in 1909. She explained in detail what had happened. When standing on the balcony above the sitting room, she felt a hand touch her shoulder. When she turned, she saw the hideous creature, its vacant black eyes staring into her own. She was overcome by extreme nausea from the horrendous odor of the Elemental.

It is believed that playing around with the black arts by the innocent Mildred, who must have thought it fun, had opened a door to the dark side which allowed the evil creature to enter.

Vice-Admiral George Darby, second son of Jonathan Darby and Anna Marie Frend both of Leap Castle ~

Painting of George Darby ca.  1783-1786  by George Romney (1734–1802)
Painting of George Darby ca. 1783-1786 by George Romney (1734–1802) | Source

White Witch Performs Spell ~

Sometime in 1970, an Australian purchased the castle and hired a white witch from Mexico to perform an exorcism in the castle -- to purge the castle of all spirits. After many hours, she emerged and said the spirits were no longer malevolent, but did not wish to leave. Whether or not the Elemental agreed to be considerate and not bother anyone anymore is rather doubtful -- yet only the current owners would have any information on that.

The term “white witch”, refers to a “good witch” who performs useful services with healing spells and other rituals.

Where did the elemental come from?

There are several theories as to where the elemental came from. One thought is that Gerald Fitzgerald, 9th Earl of Kildare had somehow put the demon there for the purpose of burning the castle down. Gerald was a practitioner of magick and had failed after several attempts to invade the castle.

An earlier belief was that Druids had summoned the elemental to reside in the castle and protect their sacred initiation secrets and magick.

There is also an ancient spirit of the O'Carroll family who died from leprosy in the castle. This could be an explanation of why the image of the face decomposes and for the horrible stench accompanying the spirit.

There are many who were killed in the castle, like the MacMahon clan, that could be the elemental seeking revenge.

Gerald FitzGerald ~

Gerald FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Kildare, January 1530
Gerald FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Kildare, January 1530 | Source

Interview with Sean Ryan, current owner of Leap Castle

Walking Tour

Note from author ~

Thank you for reading my article. Your opinions are important to me and let me know your interests. This helps me to offer more of your favorite subjects to read about. Your time and interest are very much appreciated. I hope to hear from you in the comments section below.

I write on several different subjects, all evergreen articles. You can read more about me and see more articles I wrote by clicking on my name by the small picture of me at the top right of this page.

Blessings and may you always walk in peace and harmony, softly upon Mother Earth.

Phyllis Doyle Burns - Lantern Carrier, Spiritual Mentor
~ ~ ~ ~

© 2013 Phyllis Doyle Burns


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    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      7 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      FourishAnyway, Thanks for kind compliment and for the votes. Leap Castle is fascinating and I cannot seem to pull away from it. I keep going back to the videos. There is another video with a crew of paranormal investigators that is really interesting. They stayed at the castle for a few nights and did a lot of filming. It is a five part video, so a lot of info is there. It is very interesting. Thanks again for the visit.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      7 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hezekiah, thank you for the visit and comment. I often wish I lived somewhere in the UK so I can visit castles and learn more of the history about each one. Thanks again for stopping by, I appreciate it.;

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      7 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Nell, so glad you stopped by. Thank you for the comment, vote and sharing -- I so appreciate that. OMGosh, the Oubiliette! I can almost feel the heaviness there of tortured souls just by looking at the picture. I was so drawn to the castle and wish I could actually go through it. Thanks again for the visit.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      Wonderful hub, so well written. Voted up and more. What a fascinating place, and what horrible deaths for people in that castle.

    • Hezekiah profile image


      7 years ago from Japan

      Interesting story, Im from the UK but never really visited many castles.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 years ago from England

      Sounds awesome and very spooky! the Oubliette is an awful place and I can quite believe that there are spirits down there, what a horrible way to go! fascinating read, voted up and shared! nell

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      7 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      MsDora, thank you for the visit and comment, I appreciate this.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      7 years ago from The Caribbean

      Interesting--both the history and the hauntings. Thanks for sharing this information!

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      7 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Ruby. Thank you for stopping by. It is a horrible way to die, stuck on spikes like that. Those medieval times are so interesting to me and I love to read about them -- however, I prefer to have the castle in the present day and leave the "bloody lot", as Vincent calls them, in the past. Thanks again for the visit and comment, it is much appreciated.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I agree with Vincent, what a terrible way to die. I rated this awesome and interesting. I would hate living back then, people were so cruel. I would love to visit the castles. Thank you for sharing..

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      7 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Rosemay, thank you so much for the visit and comment. Leap Castle is a scary place, but, I would love to visit there. I can understand why spirits would still be wandering around there. Those who died violently seem to be stuck in that realm where they died. There is also a little girl spirit who had fallen off the rampart to her death and still lingers withing the castle. I believe Sean Ryan mentioned her in one of the videos. Thanks again for stopping by, it is much appreciated.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      7 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Joan. Thank you for the visit and comment, it is, as always, very much appreciated. Yes, that is a fascinating video of the tour. Sean Ryan is an interesting person. There are other videos of him playing his penny whistle - he is quite good. Thanks again, Joan. See you soon.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      7 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Vincent, yes a bloody lot they were, hahahaha! I am so happy you likd the hub. Castles have always fascinated me. One of my dreams is to do exactly what Sean Ryan and his wife did, buy a castle and restore it room by room. Of course, the first room would be my bedroom, where I can hide under the covers at night and listen to the spirits wander. Actually, spirits do not bother me and I could live in peace with them. I envy you for having visited some castles. There are many in the Celtic countries I would love to see. Thank you , Vincent, for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. Hugs and peace, my friend.

      PS: I have a few more hubs coming up on the paranormal stuff (one of my favorite subjects). Hope you catch them.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      7 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      Very interesting and a little scary too. A fascinating story of Leap Castle and its history. With all the horrors that have happened there no wonder there are spirits wandering still

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 

      7 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi, great article as usual! Enjoyed it very much. Voted Up. Also ABI. Shared as well, castles are so interesting and the video of the tour is fascinating. See you!

    • profile image

      Vincent Moore 

      7 years ago

      What a bloody lot, killing each other off in the castle, what a terrible fate to be pushed onto those spikes and left their to die and rot. I love the paranormal, I visited a few castles when I was in England, The Tower of London, Hampton Court, Windsor Castle and even Canterbury Cathedral, where the Black Prince is often sighted wandering. I haven't been to any in Ireland, Scotland or Wales, but spirits are everywhere in the world, its fun to read of them and if one gets a chance to view a friendly one that's a bonus. Good share Phyllis and I enjoyed the interesting videos about the castle.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      7 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Eddy. I am glad you liked the hub. Thanks for the visit and votes. I would so love to visit Leap Castle. Take care.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      7 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Shyron, thank you for your visit and vote and sharing, it is much appreciated. I am glad you liked the hub.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      7 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Michele. Thanks for the visit and comment. I have a lot of friends who have had similar experiences as your friend did. I also feel the presence of spirits. Thanks again for the visit and also for the vote.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      So interesting with wonderful photos .Voted up and thanks for sharing .

      Loved it and voted up.


    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      7 years ago from Texas

      This is very interesting, and voted that way will share.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 

      7 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      I visited England once and toured the cemetery Highgate on one part of it a friend felt a place that was very, very cold. I stepped onto the same place but, the feeling of coldness was gone. I felt her hands and they were very cold. She told me she was so cold when she stepped on that spot she needed a coat. She stepped on that same place again and it was no longer cold. She told me a spirit had moved on.

      Very interesting hub.

      Voted up.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      7 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi phoenix. I love reading and writing about castles, which are all over the world. Castles are very fascinating with their long history and legends. Thanks for the visit and comment.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      I enjoyed this very much. You tend to forget that England isn't the only place you can find castles.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      7 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      You are most welcome. Thanks for the visit. :)

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for the great tour.


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